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W&L Journalism Students Take Top Prizes at Society of Professional Journalists Regional Competition

Washington & Lee journalism students earned seven awards – with an unprecedented three first-place winners – in the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Region II annual collegiate journalism competition.

Winners of the Mark of Excellence Awards were The Rockbridge Report , the converged news Web site of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications; Jacob Geiger, for his editorials in the independent student-run Ring-tum Phi, and Alex Scaggs, for her feature profile of a former POW published in Take Two!,  the department’s single issue magazine for 2008.  Geiger is a senior print journalism major. Scaggs is a business journalism major.

W&L also earned three second-place and one third-place awards.

“We are delighted that the hard work and boundless talents of our students and faculty have been recognized in this way,” said Department Head Brian Richardson. “Seven awards is unprecedented for us, and is an especially impressive result against the much larger journalism programs in our region.”

It was the third win in the last four years in Region II for The Rockbridge Report, a weekly Web site through which W&L’s journalism classes cover local news. It won in the category of “Best All-Around Independent Online Student Publication.” Independent online means it is not the Web site of a campus paper.

The Rockbridge Report has also been a national runner-up in two of the last three years.

W&L’s  three Region II winners this year will compete against the winners in their categories from the other 11 regions for the national Mark of Excellence Awards. The national winners, runners-up and third place entries will be announced in mid-May. They will be honored at the national SPJ conference in Indianapolis on Aug. 28.

The 2008 Region II runners-up from W&L are the student magazine inGeneral, in the Best Student Magazine category; Election Day ’08 coverage in The Rockbridge Report in the Online News Reporting category, and “Funding the Silver Tsunami,”  , a Rockbridge Report project on the local costs of retirement for baby-boomers, in the Online In-Depth Reporting category.

Students who produced the multimedia “Silver Tsunami” project for last spring’s In-Depth Reporting journalism capstone course were Melissa Caron, Class of 2009, Megann Daw Class of 2008, Kat Greene, Class of 2008 and Drew Scarantino, Class of 2009.  The third-place award went to Take Two!, a single-issue magazine showcasing the work of students in the spring term 2008 Magazine Feature Writing class.

Three W&L journalism students attended the Region II conference and awards luncheon Mar. 28 at Marymount University with Professor Doug Cumming, the SPJ chapter advisor.

W&L’s chapter began in 1920s. SPJ was founded as  Sigma Delta Chi 100 years ago this month. With professional chapters and student chapters, it is the largest and oldest professional society for journalists.